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Connecting the Dots for a Musician with a Visual Impairment Accessing Higher Ground Westminster, Colorado November 20 th, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Connecting the Dots for a Musician with a Visual Impairment Accessing Higher Ground Westminster, Colorado November 20 th, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Connecting the Dots for a Musician with a Visual Impairment Accessing Higher Ground Westminster, Colorado November 20 th, 2014

2 Presented by  Marion Stevens, Assistive Technology Specialist, Office of Disability Services, The University of Alabama  Heidi Lehmann, Music Braille Transcriptionist, Bach to Braille, Inc.  Denise Q. Smith, Assistant Director (Retired), Office of Disability Services, The University of Alabama

3 Connecting the Dots: A Tale of How ODS Made It Happen Denise Smith, Assistant Director, Office of Disability Services

4 What do you do when a transfer student with a visual impairment walks into your office the day before classes start and says he needs accommodations?

5 Initial Contact With the University  The Admissions Office called the day before classes started for the Fall 2009 semester asking if ODS could provide accommodations for a blind student who wanted to take the Advanced Placement test for Spanish.  ODS had no record of his admission to UA—He did not register with ODS until after it was suggested that he would need accommodations  He transferred from a Community College in the NE where he had received accommodations  Discovered that he was completely blind and would need everything in audio format when classes started the next day!!!  His major?—Music Therapy

6 HELP!  ODS immediately called all of his professors to determine what materials and books would be used that semester  Immediately tried to get all of his texts in audio format  Discovered that the student had other issues as well  Couldn’t get around campus independently  Couldn’t figure out how to access his materials in audio format  Outdated computer and computer programs (JAWS in particular) with no idea how to update them  Student was almost 1000 miles away from home with very little support (he knew one person in town but she backed out of the picture)

7 What To Do Now?  Started researching other Music Therapists who were blind  Discovered MENVI (Music Education Network for the Visually Impaired)  Got names of 2 MT’s who were blind and currently practicing MT  Gave names to student after ODS talked to them and they offered to consult with ODS and student  Student followed up after several months of ODS encouragement but did not follow their advice  Got names of music transcriptionists who could transcribe musical scores into a Braille musical format  Contracted with Heidi Lehmann to transcribe musical scores and text for this student

8 Process for Acquiring Materials In the Beginning-  Got music from professors and sent it to Heidi  She returned it asap since the semester had already started  Arranged with student to pick up the transcribed music as soon as it was received  Arranged with professors to extend deadlines since it was difficult to get information to student in a timely manner  Met with all professors several times during the semester about how to work with student

9 In Reality…  Student didn’t pick up transcribed work when notified  Student didn’t turn in work within extended time frames  Blamed ODS for not getting the work to him  ODS had emails that verified he had been notified  It became apparent to his professors that he would not be able to meet the standards of practice to become a MT  Meetings with everyone in Music Therapy Department, School of Music, and College of Arts and Sciences to determine how to address these concerns

10 Reality Continued  Finished the first semester with good grades due to coordinated efforts between ODS and School of Music and other Departments/Colleges  Was late turning in schedule for Spring semester and ODS again had to play “catch up” for Spring 2010 semester  Continued with the process in the Spring but problems persisted  It became more obvious during this semester that the student was not going to be able to keep up or meet the course requirements for MT  His behaviors of not picking up materials when notified and blaming ODS continued

11 Process Refined  ODS developed a system of delivery to the Music Building so the materials were in the building  This took a step out of the “pick up” process  It provided a written document that showed when the material was requested, received from the transcriptionist, delivered to the Music Building, and who received the material when it was delivered  Some of the professors wanted the material delivered to them so they could personally hand the materials to the student  Most of the professors wanted the student to be responsible and pick up his materials himself  ODS hand delivered the materials to the Music Building and had someone in the Music office sign for it  The receipt was then filed in the student’s file in case there were any concerns about when and where it was delivered and the student was notified

12 Problems Continued  Student often failed to pick up his music materials  Or lost them in his room and said ODS did not provide the materials  Student continued to turn in late assignments or didn’t turn them in at all  Checked materials out of the library reserved section and caused other students to miss an assignment because the reserved material wasn’t available  Other behavioral issues surfaced  Student failed most classes in the Spring 2010 semester

13 Then What Happened?  Student was told he would not be able to continue in the MT program  Due to grades  Due to behavioral issues  Due to inability to follow course and professional expectations/standards  Student and mother met with Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences and threatened a lawsuit if student was not allowed back in MT program because he wasn’t given the appropriate accommodations by ODS  ODS instructed to provide a time line of all activity generated on student’s behalf for the past two semesters  ODS spent the entire summer semester(s) putting the time line together  Student’s file took up a drawer in the filing cabinets  ODS Case Manager had a file in computer devoted to this student filled with several hundred emails and other documents

14 What Happened Next?  Beginning Fall 2010, the student was on an “action” plan/contract with the Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences to help everyone (faculty, ODS, other students and the student) address this student’s academic and social issues  The Dean helped coordinate communication between all parties  A new major was chosen  Music Theory  Then changed to General Music  Student became somewhat more consistent in working with ODS and professors but continued to have problems being consistent

15 Information Sharing and Recordkeeping Marion Stevens, Assistive Technology Specialist, Office of Disability Services

16 Central Point of Contact Dr. Carmen Burkhalter, an Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, served as a central point of contact for all information relating to the student. This served two purposes: 1. Provided a single person for faculty and staff to contact with questions or information regarding the student. Since not all contacts were disability-related, not all contacts needed to come to ODS. Dr. Burkhalter redirected contacts to the most appropriate department. 2. Served as a mentor for the student, addressing any academic or other issues not related to his disability.

17 Pre-Semester Faculty Meetings Before the start of each semester, ODS organized a meeting with all of the student’s professors. Topics covered included:  The student’s challenges  The format and content of each course  ODS’ text conversion process  Q&A from faculty Any past issues were generally not discussed, so as not to unintentionally influence faculty attitudes.

18 Text Conversion Requests ODS received three main types of text conversion requests:  Books assigned for use in classes before the semester began  Material assigned by faculty during the semester, including handouts, scores, quizzes, and exams  Material that the student obtained from the library for research papers, such as book chapters, journal articles, and scores Normally, once a conversion was completed, the embossed Braille document would be delivered to the School of Music main office for pickup by the student. We asked faculty to, whenever possible, allow for two weeks for a conversion to be completed.

19 Text Conversion Requests (continued) For material that did not contain musical notation, the student preferred electronic documents over Braille. These would usually be converted in-house and provided on CD. The student would usually pick these discs up at the ODS office, since they were often for non-music courses.

20 Books  ODS attempted to obtain book information as early as possible, preferably several months before the semester began.  Ideally, complete conversions could be done before the start of classes, but this usually wasn’t possible.  Books would usually be converted in sections, based on the dates each part would be needed.

21 Material Assigned in Class  Faculty members were asked to submit any material they needed to be converted directly to ODS at least two weeks before it was needed in class.  Orders would usually be completed on a first come, first served basis, although very simple or very complex conversions could be completed out of order.  If our transcriptionist believed that the Library of Congress held a copy of the requested material, she would refer us there before beginning the conversion.

22 Research Material  Material would normally be converted on a first come, first served basis.  In theory, student would be responsible for bringing ODS hard copies of material obtained from library.  In practice, UA’s music librarian would usually send copies of material to us for conversion. She would assist student in locating relevant material, then either scan hard copies or provide purely electronic copies, if available.

23 Recordkeeping ODS employed two recordkeeping methods to track the progress of all material produced for the student, both that which was sent to Bach to Braille for conversion and that which was converted in-house:  Paper tracking sheet  Spreadsheet

24 Tracking Sheet  Sheet prepared for each order  Items included:  Class and faculty member the order was associated with  Title of item to be converted  Date request received by ODS  Date item sent to transcriptionist  Date Braille file received from transcriptionist  Date file embossed  Date order delivered to School of Music  Signature of recipient and initials of ODS staff who delivered order.


26 Spreadsheet  Used to track conversions performed throughout the semester  Contained basically the same information as individual tracking sheets  Organized by class and date orders received  Spreadsheet allowed ODS staff to quickly see which orders had been placed and the status of each, making it easy to see which ones were outstanding.


28 Best Practices/Lessons Learned  Since the student did not always pick up material from the music office in a timely manner, it was sometimes necessary to send e-mail notifications that material had been delivered, especially for particularly time-sensitive items.  The student had a tendency to misplace material and either ask if he had received it or state that he had not received it, so good recordkeeping was essential. Being able to tell the student when an item was delivered would prompt him to either check the music office for it or look for it in his dorm room.

29 Best Practices/Lessons Learned (continued)  Although it was never needed, it would have been preferable had the School of Music documented when the student retrieved material from the music office.  A close working relationship with the music librarian was vital, both so that ODS would receive research material in the best possible format and quality, and also because she provided assistance in locating better copies of scores, journal articles, and book chapters when copies provided by faculty were of poor quality.

30 Best Practices/Lessons Learned (continued)  Always keep at least one extra box of Braille paper on hand. APH can occasionally be slow to ship orders, and large embossing jobs can appear unexpectedly.  Ensure that faculty understand the conversion process and the amount of time conversions will take. While some rush orders are inevitable, they shouldn’t become common practice.  Communicate any times that you will be away from the office, such as for conferences or vacations, to faculty and your transcriptionist so that conversions can be planned accordingly. Train a backup person to handle emergency conversions.

31 The Bottom Line Never assume that a student’s disability will dictate the challenges that he/she will face. While a disability can necessitate a certain set of accommodations, how well those accommodations will work is more heavily influenced by how the student interacts with faculty, the DSS office, and his/her Accommodations Specialist.  Assess the student’s disability and develop an accommodation plan.  Assess the student’s personality, maturity level, and general demeanor, and adjust your implementation strategy accordingly.  Communicate regularly with everyone involved in the process.  Make adjustments, as needed.  Document, document, document!

32 From the Transcriptionist’s Perspective Heidi Lehmann, transcriptionist Bach to Braille, Inc.

33 The Transcription Process ProfessorODSTranscriberODSStudent

34 Faculty Transcriber Disability Services

35 How Do I Find A Transcriptionist?  Exhibitors at Professional Development Conferences  National Library of Congress  National Braille Association  Internet Search

36 What is Initially Needed from the Transcriptionist?  Price quote based on the scope of the project  Completed W9 as subcontractor with the university  ODS contacts Purchasing/Procurement Department to obtain purchase order number valid for one academic year

37 What is Needed from the Music Faculty?  Early submission of textbook titles, including ISBN number to assure correct edition  Early summer for Fall semester  Mid-Fall for Spring semester  Class syllabus  Clear, legible scans of scores or resource material  Material submission:  Handouts, quizzes, mid-terms and final exams at least 2 weeks in advance  Vocal and instrumental parts: 2 weeks  Orchestral score: 3 weeks  Music Theory: 3 weeks  20 th Century Music: 4 weeks

38 What is Needed from ODS?  Accessible PDF of the requested textbook  Word file of the requested textbook  Class syllabus  Send material to transcriber as email attachment with cc to everyone involved  Or, upload to shared Dropbox folder  Purchase order confirmation number so project can begin

39 The Transcription Process Begins  Email confirmation sent that material was received and successfully downloaded with ETA  Transcription process begins  Project ready for production Embossing UniversityStudent Embossing Bach to BrailleShip via UPS to ODS

40 Payment  Once package or.BRF file has been received, invoice is sent via email to ODS or Accounts Payable Department with cc to ODS  Payment is allocated by form of check

41 Contact Information Marion Stevens Heidi Lehmann Denise Q. Smith

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